The perception of commercial buildings as simple bricks-and-mortar structures has shifted considerably in light of growing demands for integrated technology and sustainability options. As a result, modern buildings are now smarter than ever before.
Characterised by the use of wholly integrated systems that share vital information, smart buildings use Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and automation to control everything from lighting and heating, all of the way through to meeting room scheduling.
Over the last decade, we’ve seen impressive smart commercial buildings emerge all over the world. Here are our top five smarter-than-smart offices.
1. Glumac - Shanghai, China
The 6,000 square foot Glumac office is considered one of the most sustainable buildings on the continent. It boasts the best air quality in Shanghai thanks to a monitoring system that enables employees to see the toxicity of the indoor air on their mobile phones. Five air purification systems and a planted green wall filter out what can be severe pollution from outside of the building.
2. Duke Energy Center - Charlotte, NC, USA
Owned by Wells Fargo and home to Duke Energy, this 51-floor skyscraper reuses approximately 10 million gallons of harvested water each year from groundwater, rainwater and HVAC condensation. This meets almost 80 per cent of the cooling tower’s water needs and 100 per cent of the building’s irrigation requirements. Its landscaped roof garden reduces stormwater run-off and uses plants to capture excess heat. Additionally, the daylight harvesting blinds move with the angle of the sun to reflect light into the interior, so workers receive more natural light throughout the day.
3. Hindmarsh Shire Council Corporate Centre - Melbourne, Australia
Designed for optimum energy efficiency and employee wellbeing, this building has a series of underground thermal chambers and a ventilation system under the floor that draws in fresh air from the exterior. The earth naturally cools and warms the air before redistributing it through the building’s interior. It also boasts LED lighting systems that reduce energy consumption, rooftops solar panels that harvest the sun’s energy and vertical green walls that enhance indoor air quality.
4. Bahrain World Trade Center
We love this modern take on the traditional wind turbine with the building harnessing the offshore winds in the Arabian Gulf. The shape of the building channels the airflow through three turbines, each measuring three metres in diameter, which are supported by walkways that link the two 240 metre towers. Between them, the turbines generate approximately 11-15 per cent of the building’s energy needs.
5. The Crystal Building - London, England
Our list wouldn’t be complete without an entry from the UK. Dedicated to the study and creation of sustainable cities, it’s no surprise that The Crystal Building is one of the most sustainable buildings in the world. It generates its own energy through the use of solar panels and ground heat pumps and collects rainwater to maintain its bathrooms and irrigation system. As a result, it emits 70 per cent less carbon dioxide and spends 46 per cent less on energy than any other building of its size. In fact, the annual heating bill for The Crystal Building is a big fat zero.